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The first rule of biography, wrote Justin Kaplan: “Shoot the widow.” In her new book, Meryle Secrest, acclaimed biographer (“Knowing, sympathetic and entertainingly droll”—The New York Times), writes about her comic triumphs and misadventures as a biographer in search of her nine celebrated subjects, about how the hunt for a “life” is like working one’s way through a maze, full of fall starts, dead ends, and occasional clear passages leading to the next part of the puzzle. She writes about her first book, a life of Romaine Brooks, and how she was led to Nice and given invaluable letters by her subject’s heir that were slid across the table, one at a time; how she was led to the villa of Brooks’ lover, Gabriele d’Annunzio (poet, playwright, and aviator), a fantastic mausoleum left untouched since the moment of his death seventy years before; to a small English village, where she uncovered a lost Romaine Brooks painting; and finally, to 20, rue Jacob, Paris, where Romaine’s lover, Natalie Barney, had fifty years before entertained Cocteau, Gide, Proust, Colette, and others. Secrest describes how her next book—a life of Berenson—prompted Francis Steegmuller, fellow biographer, to comment that he wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole. For her life of British art historian Kenneth Clark, Secrest was given permission to write the book by her subject, who surreptitiously financed it in the hopes of controlling its contents; we see how Clark’s plan was foiled by a jealous mistress and a stash of love letters that helped Secrest navigate Clark’s obstacle course. Among the other biographical (mis)adventures, Secrest reveals: how she tracked Salvador Dalí to a hospital room, found him recovering from serious burns sustained in a mysterious fire, and learned that he was knee-deep in a scandal involving fake drawings and prints and surrounded by dangerous characters out of Murder, Inc. . . . and how she went in search of a subject’s grave (Frank Lloyd Wright’s) only to find that his body had been dug up to satisfy the whim of his last wife. A fascinating account of a life spent in sometimes arduous, sometimes comical, always exciting pursuit of the truth about other lives. From the Hardcover edition.
The unknown life of Alan Clark, celebrated diarist, womaniser, Tory MP and controversial minister in Mrs Thatcher's governments. Celebrated diarist, famous womaniser, Tory MP and controversial minister - a castle-owning toff and lecherous cad to some, to others a colourful and life-enhancing figure - Alan Clark was politically incorrect before the term was invented. He is best remembered for his sensational diaries - but what of the man? Alan Clark rarely spoke about his upbringing, even to his family. Was it as unhappy as he hinted? Ion Trewin has had unrestricted access to extensive family papers (including twenty years of unpublished diaries). He has talked to politicians, to those who knew him at the prep school which burnt down, to friends at Eton and Oxford, and to some of the many women he found impossible to resist despite a loving marriage of forty-one years. From his struggles to teach himself to write to formidable historian and diarist, from his enthusiasm for Margaret Thatcher to the 'drunk at the Commons dispatch box' affair, ALAN CLARK THE BIOGRAPHY is a revealing and absorbing account of a remarkable and unforgettable man.
The definitive biography of this brilliant polymath--director of the National Gallery, author, patron of the arts, social lion, and singular pioneer of television--that also tells the story of the arts in the twentieth century through his astonishing life. Kenneth Clark's thirteen-part 1969 television series, Civilisation, established him as a globally admired figure. Clark was prescient in making this series: the upheavals of the century, the Cold War among others, convinced him of the power of barbarism and the fragility of culture. He would burnish his image with two memoirs that artfully omitted the more complicated details of his life. Now, drawing on a vast, previously unseen archive, James Stourton reveals the formidable intellect and the private man behind the figure who effortlessly dominated the art world for more than half a century: his privileged upbringing, his interest in art history beginning at Oxford, his remarkable early successes. At 27 he was keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean in Oxford and at 29, the youngest director of The National Gallery. During the war he arranged for its entire collection to be hidden in slate mines in Wales and organized packed concerts of classical music at the Gallery to keep up the spirits of Londoners during the bombing. WWII helped shape his belief that art should be brought to the widest audience, a social and moral position that would inform the rest of his career. Television became a means for this message when he was appointed the first chairman of the Independent Television Authority. Stourton reveals the tortuous state of his marriage during and after the war, his wife's alcoholism, and the aspects of his own nature that he worked to keep hidden. A superb work of biography, Kenneth Clark is a revelation of its remarkable subject.
Gisèle d’Estoc was the pseudonym of a nineteenth-century French woman writer and, it turns out, artist who, among other things, was accused of being a bomb-planting anarchist, the cross-dressing lover of writer Guy de Maupassant, and the fighter of at least one duel with another woman, inspiring Bayard’s famous painting on the subject. The true identity of this enigmatic woman remained unknown and was even considered fictional until recently, when Melanie C. Hawthorne resurrected d’Estoc’s discarded story from the annals of forgotten history. Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist begins with the claim by expert literary historians of France on the eve of World War II that the woman then known only as Gisèle d’Estoc was merely a hoax. More than fifty years later, Hawthorne not only proves that she did exist but also uncovers details about her fascinating life and career, along the way adding to our understanding of nineteenth-century France, literary culture, and gender identity. Hawthorne explores the intriguing life of the real d’Estoc, explaining why others came to doubt the “experts” and following the threads of evidence that the latter overlooked. In focusing on how narratives are shaped for particular audiences at particular times, Hawthorne also tells “the story of the story,” which reveals how the habits of thought fostered by the humanities continue to matter beyond the halls of academe.
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart are one of the defining duos of musical theater, contributing dozens of classic songs to the Great American Songbook and working together on over 40 shows before Hart's death. With hit after hit on both Broadway and the West End, they produced many of the celebrated songs of the '20s and '30s--such as "Manhattan," "The Lady is a Tramp," and "Bewitched"--that remain popular favorites with great cultural resonance today. Yet the early years of these iconic collaborators have remained largely unexamined. We'll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers & Hart provides unprecedented insight into the first, formative period of Rodgers and Hart's collaboration. Author Dominic Symonds examines the pair and their work from their first meeting in 1919 to their brief flirtation with Hollywood in the early 1930s as they left the theater to explore sound film. During this time, their output was prodigious, progressive, and experimental. They developed their characteristic style and a new approach to musical theater writing that provided the groundwork for the development of the Broadway musical. Symonds also analyzes the theme of identity that runs throughout Rodgers and Hart's work, how the business side of the theater affected their artistic output, and their continued experimentation with a song's dramatic role within a narrative. We'll Have Manhattan goes beyond a biographical or historical look at Rodgers and Hart's early years--it's also an accessible but authoritative study of their material. Symonds documents their early shows and provides deft critical and analytical commentary on their evolving practice and its influence on the subsequent development of the American musical. Fans of musical theater and devotees of Rodgers and Hart will find this definitive exploration of their early works to be an essential addition to their Broadway library.
Includes, beginning Sept. 15, 1954 (and on the 15th of each month, Sept.-May) a special section: School library journal, ISSN 0000-0035, (called Junior libraries, 1954-May 1961). Also issued separately.

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